Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has admitted he had to put on a ‘brave face’ during his side’s 14-match run without a win last season.
The 49-year-old saw his team start the campaign extremely well, but after a 1-0 win over Arsenal in November, they failed to taste victory again until March after a miserable winter.
The 4-0 win against Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light eventually ended their dismal run and brought a change of fortune to Sunderland.
The Black Cats picked up 17 points from their last 11 games, securing a 13th-placed finish, and Bruce was pleased to end the season on a high note.
He told the club’s official website: "You have to keep that equilibrium - not getting too carried away or beating yourself up too badly.
"As a manager you have to be in the middle all the time. If you take water in, people look at you and say - 'look at the state he's in today'.
"You have to make sure you lead from the front and put a brave face on it during the tough times to bring people with you and get out of it.
"Thankfully we came through the bad spell, though it was six weeks too late for my liking.
"When we got our big players back we looked like a better team again."